Help! The ghost of Christ­mas present(s)

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - BONDINGS - JOHN MASTERSON

THIS time last year I was sport­ing a smug look. I was one of the few peo­ple on the planet with my Christ­mas shop­ping done.

Through the year I had picked up odds and ends for the peo­ple on my list. Each gift, usu­ally fairly small, was clearly hand-picked with the re­cip­i­ent in mind. I laid them out in their re­spec­tive piles. They met ev­ery cri­te­rion. The ones that would be on aero­planes were light and un­break­able. The ones that would be un­der trees were unguess­able. If I say so my­self it was a mas­ter­class in Christ­mas present prepa­ra­tion.

The day ar­rived and there were plenty of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ and the gen­eral con­sen­sus was that I had done a su­perb job.

Where I was short on qual­ity I was long on quan­tity. I had com­fort­ably stayed within bud­get with­out look- ing cheap. The only money I in­cluded were a few Tai­wanese dol­lars that I had left over and they weren’t go­ing far on that. I had set a new gold stan­dard in thought­ful­ness, not my strong suit.

My mis­take was to set such a high stan­dard. The only thing that could fol­low was fail­ure and I am now star­ing it in the face. The cup­board is bare, with the ex­cep­tion of a sup­ply of T-shirts com­mem­o­rat­ing the Pope’s visit to Ire­land which I was un­able to leave in the shop once they had dropped to €2. I do not have a sin­gle idea in my head. And the days are pass­ing very quickly.

I am sur­rounded by peo­ple who no longer buy CDS, DVDS or in some dread­ful cases, books. I shared my plight with all and sundry. Ap­par­ently a lot of peo­ple, who are deal­ing with grown-ups who al­ready have more rub­bish than they need, set a fam­ily bud­get. This does not solve my prob­lem.

I am think­ing of send­ing out a cir­cu­lar to my present giv­ing and get­ting group sug­gest­ing a bud­get of €10 and stress­ing the ‘ it is the thought that counts’ mes­sage. This may also flush out some­one I had to­tally for­got­ten. It has hap­pened in the past and it is mor­ti­fy­ing.

Some years back Jon Snow of Chan­nel 4 News was the only per­son on the planet who wore brightly coloured socks. Now every­body does and they are cheap and cheer­ful. They put a smiles on faces and at the mo­ment seem to me like the ideal present.

An­other thing on the list is a per­son­alised Christ­mas tree dec­o­ra­tion. This will last for ever and bring back mem­o­ries each year. It has the added ad­van­tage that you can buy lo­cal and if we don’t buy lo­cal our ru­ral towns will go the way of CDS and DVDS. Ev­ery euro you spend is a vote for the type of com­mu­nity you want.

Now to a more im­por­tant topic. What is there on my Santa list? For those who think I have been very, very good there is the new Har­ley David­son elec­tric bike. I don’t think it is out yet, and I don’t hold out much hope in any case. I did have a spin on the BMW elec­tric push (not that you push these days) bike and loved it but I don’t think any­one will spring for that ei­ther. I will set­tle for socks. No dull ones please.

Hav­ing coun­selled my­self for the last few hun­dred words, I now know that if I carry out this plan I will face ex­te­rior dark­ness. So back to panic. What am I go­ing to get ev­ery­one for Christ­mas? This is a night­mare.

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